Chelsea manager Antonio Conte says he’s been “a bit of a disaster” when trying to convince his clubs to spend big money on transfers but thinks his coaching skill can’t come under question.
The Blues are in poor form, having lost 3-0 to Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge before Watford triumphed 4-1 against them at Vicarage Road.
Chelsea’s game against West Brom on Monday could be pivotal to Conte’s future and, after saying everyone at the Blues is responsible for the club’s current problems, he acknowledged he has done poorly at landing transfer targets.
“My task is to try and improve every single player, in every aspect,” Conte said. “About mentality also, about the desire, the will to fight, and the tactical aspects. Yes. My task is this. For this, I’m very good.
“I think I’m a bit of a disaster to convince the club to buy the players. I think in this aspect I can improve a lot. I have to learn a lot from the other coaches, the other managers, in that aspect. I can learn a lot in that aspect.
“I don’t know [how to improve]. I have to speak more with the managers who are very, very good to persuade their clubs to spend money and buy top players.
Asked if his players’ improvement makes requesting transfers difficult, he added: “You are not the first person to suggest this — not the first person to tell me this. Usually, in my experience, I think I reached the best results possible with the players that I have to work with.
“I think that I’m the type of coach who, if I have a player who is six, I bring him to an eight. If I have a player who is eight, I take him to 10. I’m this type of coach.”
Conte’s comments could be alluding to the Manchester clubs, whose managers have convinced their teams to outspend Chelsea considerably this season.
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City have outspent Chelsea for the last five seasons, when accounting for player sales against player purchases, and now have a 22-point lead over the champions in the Premier League.
Chelsea’s poor performance in the league has intensified speculation that Conte will leave at the end of the season. Luis Enrique is rumoured to be the man who will replace him, and Conte revealed he has a friendship with the ex-Roma boss from both managers’ time in Italy.
“I have spoken with him,” Conte said. “We played against each other, and he’s a really good person. I have great admiration for Luis Enrique and, sometime, he is a fantastic coach.
“He reached his targets with Barcelona, and also with Roma, you could see a well organised team. I can speak about him very well, as a person and a coach.
“We do this job, and our job is not ‘difficult’, but you must be open and understand the situation can change. A club can take different decisions. It’s the same for me. But, I repeat, I’m not jealous or envious of other managers. Everyone knows his job, his work. I have, usually, a great respect.”
Chelsea have had two games every week since mid-November and the players appeared to tire in January, with injuries starting to hit that included eight hamstring problems.
The Blues do not have a mid-week fixture in the coming days, leading Conte to give his players two extra days off after losing to Watford. Conte didn’t take any extra time off, however, and several injured players — including Andreas Christensen — have been stepping up their recovery at the training ground.
Chelsea’s recent injury record has led to criticism that he may be over-training players, but Conte has denied that he has being doing physical work during the recent busy run.
“Now it’s very difficult to describe my sessions in training,” he said. “For sure, when you play every three days, it’s impossible to work on the physical aspects. This season, we are not working on this aspect.
“But, if I have time to work with the players and you have the whole week, and you try to start the week with physical session, then in midweek I start to go on the tactical aspect and prepare the game.
“But I think that, usually when you work, you don’t smile. Especially if you work hard. It’s very difficult to smile. But, at the same time, you understand that only through work can you reach a fantastic target like last season. Last season, our work allowed us to reach an incredible target.
“They were very happy to have had three days off, to see me after three days off, yes. I think it was a great opportunity for them to spend three days with their families. For this reason, they were very happy to see me.
“I think we are ready. I think we are ready to face the game against West Brom, and them to play against Hull City and then Barcelona. We must be ready to play three games in eight days. We are ready, I think.”